The Seahawks are:
I know what fans (even loyal Seattleites) are immediately going to say: "Rankings don’t mean anything." The team still has to live up to the hype. When the ‘Hawks win the Lombardi Trophy, then the celebrating can begin.
All good points. And all true.
Truthfully, rankings of this type are all about bragging rights between fanbases. In addition, they provide something to talk about in the offseason and between games.
Besides, there are always doubters. This fan tweeted:
Seahawks No.1 in new ESPN NFL power rankings. lol. They're not even the best team in their own division.— Sports Talk (@DamonSalvadore1) April 30, 2013
So, rankings don’t mean anything, right? Or do they?
Football is still a mental game. Athletes and coaches read the papers. They hear the chatter. The Seahawks have to know that there are high expectations.
The question is, will they respond?
In many ways, we are beyond the point where fans are suggesting that in a “year or two” this team will be really good. The time may be right now. Granted, there are reasons to feel good about how this team will perform in the next few years.
Those reasons include a young, aggressive defense, a quarterback on the rise, abruising running back in his prime, solid depth and an incredibly potent homefield advantage; all good stuff that could contribute to the Seahawks being a dynasty in the making.
And yet, fans are going to be cautious, and for good reason. The NFL is a brutal league. Bad bounces happen. Fumbles. Injuries. Momentum. All of these factors can very easily derail a great team in the very short 16-game season.
The San Francisco 49ers were in the Super Bowl for a reason, and you could argue that they got better. This fan tweeted that exact sentiment:
In fact, opposing teams may actually feel some additional motivation to knock off the “best” team in the NFL.
Will the ‘Hawks feel the pressure to live up to the hype? Or will all the love from the media serve to further energize a team that is hungry for a championship after they were one defensive stop away from the NFC Championship Game last season?
Fans are going to be excited about this season, and for obvious reasons. However, there is sure to be some caution mixed in with the optimism. The seasoned football fan that has been around for a few years knows that things can go terribly wrong in a short period of time.
The loyal fans in Seattle still remember Super Bowl XL. Memories from that tragic game probably won’t be erased until Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson are raising the Lombardi Trophy in a cloud of confetti.
It is nice to be No. 1, even if it is just on a website. Now all the Seahawks have to do is stay in the top spot.
2013 could be the year. Perhaps ESPN has it exactly right.